Trigger Warning: Suicide/ Suicidal Thoughts/ Self-Harm/ Depression
The Last 8 by Laura Pohl is a science-fiction dystopian story set after an alien invasion. Told from the main character’s point of view, it sets a high-bar for dealing with heady issues straight-on. Without pulling any punches, we watch as Clover works through her Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) following the attack. Her thoughts of suicide and questions of why she survived when so many did not are brought to the forefront with brutal honesty.
Thank you to NetGalley and Sourcebooks for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Unfortunately, there are other times in the book when the same issue is not handled with due reverence reflected with Clover’s character. Instead, these it is utilized to motivate others into making certain decisions to further the plot. There should have been other ways in which characters were motivated into making those choices.
Pohl fully realizes an encompassing cultural and sexual diverse set of characters throughout the book that openly deal with tangible issues such as developing feelings for someone who is asexual. There wasn’t a need to force any romantic relationship between the rest of the characters throughout the book, which is also a refreshing change of pace.
Although I do not identify as asexual, I can identify with unrequited love. No matter how you identify in your sexuality Pohl makes that hurt is undeniably painful to any that experience it. And it hurts a lot. It is common ground upon which we can all stand.
There are many poignant moments between these characters that give the characters room to grow and a chance to build their personalities throughout the story. Their personalities, their voices and how they’ve changed from before, and now in this new world is a solid foundation for the first book of this series.
My issues with The Last 8 are the plot holes and mishmash of so many pieces of alien invasion books/shows/movies before it. I am a lover of end of the world, dystopia, apocalypse books, tv shows, and movies. I will overlook many faults for the sake of knowing that if you don’t, you might as well not watch it. However, certain things are just over done or are too convenient for me to go along with in this plot.
For instance, after six months of wandering around she happens to accidentally find a radio signal when the car radio accidentally comes on just when a message happens to broadcast from the remaining survivors telling others where to come for safety. Additionally, during those six months of wandering around she stumbles upon a house with a working shower.
Why didn’t anyone ever even try to fight back against the aliens? The adults? The government? Anyone? Anyone at all? There wasn’t any hint of an air attack or a rumbling of at least a tank before being dusted?
I know Clover was a pilot, but she was training to be a pilot. Even in the beginning of the book she makes the joke that she can’t get to Mars yet. She’s still trying to get into MIT. Yet there she is at one point flying a spaceship and nailing all these amazing stunts like she’s Hans Solo.
My last big question is what happening in the rest of the world? Now some of that question is tied into spoilers I don’t want to give up. Quite possibly, the answer could be tied up in the second book. However, I couldn’t help but wonder if the invasion had spread past America.
In the end there were some plot twists that I didn’t see coming and action that was well played out, but it wasn’t enough to save the book for me. I applaud the issues it takes on and hope that more authors do the same. However, overall the plot just wasn’t an original enough spin on the alien invasion story to keep it believable or engaging.